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The metaverse is here. One may think it’s just another buzzword to describe the evolution of the web, but you have to realize it isn’t all about VR, AR, and other disruptive technologies. It’s about the emergence of a new business environment, never seen before.
But this time around, the goalposts have been moved. Web2 was a point in time in which people worked with what they had. Content creators hopped on platforms that offered the best bang for their buck. Influencers grew followings via their online social networks. Musicians signed to labels to help expand their reach.
And although users of these mediums benefited from the powerful network effects of tech giants, the relationship was toxic at best. Hyperscalers like Google and Facebook accumulated data at a rate never seen before. Data quickly became the most sought-after resource because of its effect on core competencies.
Once the web2 space matured, tech giants experienced a shift in their relationship with users. Now, instead of curating a positive relationship with its communities, tech giants were forced to extract data and compete with the same people that adopted their technology. In short, data was being used against their will.
This phenomenon, called surveillance capitalism, led to the development of web3.
Web3 does things differently. Much differently. Without a centralized infrastructure to gather data from their robust algorithms, tech giants now have to adapt to the new environment. They can’t monetize eyeballs anymore. Instead, tech companies now compete over one aspect of the human condition: Attention.
In a crowded virtual space, advertisers need to break through the noise and grab’s people attention, or else they will fail. Their methods have to change. No more competing via innovative ads and psychological tricks; now we’re ushering in an era where Intellectual Property (IP) is king.
In web3, tech giants lean into the battle for patents. As businesses implement new technologies to compete, a rise in patent fillings follows suit. IP serves to protect innovation, and without it, we would suffer from a lack of originality.
Since users and content creators have become evangelists of sorts in the web3 world, conglomerates need to re-establish control. A further emphasis on acquiring IP and protecting it with patents has become the clear mission for tech giants in the metaverse.
What do I mean by all of this?
It’s always been a question of ownership. With web2, content ownership lies in the hands of record labels, tech giants, and hyperscalers — not content creators. With web3, we’re cultivating a culture of innovation. Ownership is being put back into the hands of creators. They will have full IP rights, as blockchain technology solves a host of issues experienced in web2.
Take a look at the music industry. Record labels control the narrative, as they own the masters of the artists signed to their label. As a result, the artist barely makes any income off of streams and album sales.
But now, with Audius as a top contender to replace the establishment, musicians have complete ownership of their music. They aren’t discouraged from creating their best works, nor are they forced to follow the agenda of a record label. And when ownership lies within the creator’s hands, innovation thrives.
So if creators own their works, how can tech giants compete in the space?
While the environment may have changed, the competitive advantages remain the same. Powered by proprietary software, the digital economy is still prevalent in the new normal. Though this time around, the model needs to include consumers, developers, and creators into the mix.
The overarching “community” doesn’t only have complete ownership of their user-generated content. It also has a stake in the platform via governance tokens. In the eyes of the establishment, their participation, investments, and promotion are the crux of the matter. As a result, we’re witnessing a monumental shift in power dynamics.
Tech giants are asking themselves: “How can we manifest our software capabilities to foster a set of shared incentives?”. The challenge here is to uphold a win/win scenario as the platform’s core value. No one should be left behind.
To compete in this industry, tech companies could develop smart contracts to bake tokenomics within the code itself. For example, users could earn 1 $TWEET per 100 words tweeted. 5 $TWEET could be awarded for Twitter-thread gurus. The gist is that participants could earn tokens for supporting the network in its journey to success.
In the web3 space, decentralized digital infrastructure is the name of the game. Software capabilities are the same, yet IP rights alter the methods of its use. Monetization lies within open-source code, and the central entity isn’t your employer anymore — it’s your co-founder. You, the creator, own the content you produce, just like it should have from the start.
Shared values are more important than ever. The scales are tipping in the user’s favour. Power is being distributed across multi-stakeholder approaches, and inclusion is vital to surpass the feats of web2. A new model is forming, and with it, a wave of innovation arises with a mission to topple the hierarchy.